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Living "in the glow of the cyber-capital.": finance capital in Don DeLillo's fiction

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:35 authored by Alessandra De Marco
The present thesis reads Don DeLillo’s fiction as expressive of the process of financialization which emerged in response to the 1970s capitalist crisis in the United States and gave rise to a specific social materiality and peculiar “structure of feeling” grounded in finance capital. I will argue that DeLillo’s works offer a powerful representation and critique of the workings of finance capital and of American hegemony pursued via the emergence, consolidation and expansion of finance. As DeLillo’s novels depict a specifically finance-driven US hegemony, they also register the attempts to resist such hegemony. Simultaneously, I shall focus on DeLillo’s analysis of a culture immersed in what Keynes called “the fetish of liquidity”, and on DeLillo’s investigation of how the seemingly dematerialising power of speculative capital modifies the construction of a new social materiality and human experience. By articulating a comparison between specific mechanisms within finance capital and the workings of mourning and melancholia, I shall explore the anxiety and dread pervading DeLillo’s characters as originating within the erasure of the commodity form from the dominant financial mode. Within such purview, I will first explore those texts, written in the 1970s, which best depict the crisis in US capitalism and the response to such crisis via the emergence of a chiefly financial economic and cultural mode. Subsequently, I will investigate DeLillo’s latest production in order to highlight how such works expose the contradictions and limitations of a finance-dominated economy and its attendant “structure of feeling”, and express an ever-growing need to return to less virtual, less evanescent forms of economic production.


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